Framing Device

Lily Bridges (2022)

Senior School of Art Student, Lily Bridges, created “Framing Device” for her BFA senior thesis show, “All for Love.” Bridge’s installation challenges the lines of sight, building a relationship between domestic windows and white cube gallery spaces. Accompanying this installation, Bridges wrote an autotheoretical reflection on framing devices and image capturing. The text is included below in its entirety.

This project was made possible with support by microgrant#2022-010 from the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier. Additional images can be found here.

“Whenever I take walks, I catch myself looking up and into the windows of houses and apartments from the fence line or sidewalk. Windows, standard ones– like the ones on the outside of homes or buildings, bend the truth. Only temporarily, unless you stand and attempt to hold it still. Windows don’t try to capture or convince you of anything. They suck the world into a small vortex and toss it back out immediately: an image space that does not ever try to represent or hold it still. They are not light or time sensitive like any photographic scenario, but they still manage to capture, but then also release. Windows allow you to see the past, present, and future in a collapsed state right in front of you, right behind you, in, through to the otherside, yourself in the middle of it all. It’ll show you how to let it go.

There was a time that photography failed me, betrayed me. I was forced to reassess my relationship with it; looking back on every memory I had with it. Each time we encounter a memory, we revisit the past with everything we know now. Our minds rewrite meaning and events, creating a new, up-to-date iteration. At each stage of this process, the friction between the present and past breaks down and degrades the resolution of the past– revealing the levels of my mind the memory has reached, the pockets of shame and anger it has touched. Layers of blurry artifacts accumulate, warping the surface and challenging the value of “accurate” representation and visibility of the past– I hope my photographs come undone as photographs.

As I was thinking through this installation, I first knew I wanted to take advantage of the gallery space and recreate the situation of looking up and in for a viewer– and I was thinking about how windows are the closest thing that I have found that shares the posture of a photo, yet lacks the desire to convince me of something. I thought about window frames, and photo frames. Windows are usually positioned above us, yet with no authority as a “real” image. Windows depict a de-contained reality: an that is so consistent with warping, strife, complexity, and temporality that it starts to feel like a more-real life. Windows are one of the only collapses among the manicured landscape, otherwise trying to convince me that it is not coming undone. They are the way into the way out. I can believe in windows.

Shame is a two-way mirror. I can’t recognize it until I see myself trapped in it. I can’t see behind it, I can only see myself. Somehow, I am also hidden; subsequently forgotten. Something else about shame is clawing, and excruciatingly freeing, when it becomes unbearable to hide. It will eat you, eat at you, it will make you bury yourself alive if you let it. You get what you get when you don’t fret a bit– and I haven’t fret up until this point. So, I ripped it out, killed it, and put it here instead. A victory. A resistance. An invitational. An admittance. This is the real silver [participation] trophy– for participating in this god-forsaken world. I am showing you everything that I have left.

Constantly, I feel like an intruder in my own life. There is something that I cannot get to, something too dark for me to even see, or see through. There is something so private, that not even I am aware of it in a way that I can articulate. It is a pain without words– dull and almost quiet. A rage, a shame, a sadness that cannot be replaced. I am too protected from myself. Real Silver Trophy gives me a chance to bear witness to all of this from a distance… a safe, private range, behind the fence.”